Commentary

Klar: local media filters narrative about shooting dogs

This border collie, living with its owner in Westmore on Lake Willoughby, is the full sister of John and Jackie Klar’s dog Katie, who died shortly after the author wrote the op-ed below.

by John Klar

For the first time ever, I posted to (Randolph) Front Porch Forum in July in response to “Husky Just Killed Our Chicken.” As an experienced farmer and attorney, I thought my contribution would help the chicken owner and others (apparently this dog has killed many area chickens). What developed was instead a character attack against me personally, using a perversion of what I said – enabled by what I have come to call “Fraud Porch Forum,” a “Vermont Benefit Corporation” that advertises itself as bridging political divisions but in practice (as here) does the opposite.

This strange corporate animal obtains a special certification that touts itself as not responsive merely to shareholder profits like traditional corporations but morally “better”. As VPR has characterized these companies:

Publicly held companies have a financial responsibility to their shareholders: they have to make money. But benefit corporations can be responsible to the environment, their employees, and their communities. Businesses that have become benefit corporations say they are taking it into their own hands to make the world a better place.

Front Porch Forum says it is making Vermont a better place, developing “social capital and community cohesion,” yet claims that in 2021 it responded to the struggle for racial justice, economic hardship, disinformation campaigns and political divisiveness, upheaval and violence. In response to these crises, FPF took many steps, including continued to evolve our posting moderation model to fact check postings about challenging topics. 

FPF is a for-profit entity that makes money for its shareholders, under the pretense that it is making Vermont better. It notes its profits increased in 2021, and that its goals for 2022 are to 

  • Help Vermont’s local communities become demonstrably more resilient 
  • Continue to help Vermonters find common ground while navigating crises

As I will relate here, these stated goals are demonstrably the opposite of what this deceptive outlet achieves. And because Vermont law only permits shareholders or directors (in this case I believe FPF is privately held) to bring a “benefits enforcement proceeding,” there is no vehicle to expose this deception legally. 

In Randolph, the initial post by the distraught hen owner was:

The white husky came again, BUT this time he attacked our chickens, killed one and ran away with it. This is not acceptable! Control your dog! He is not welcome on our land!

Whoever the owner is, contact me via this post, to let me know how you are going to replace the chicken and keep your dog away from my home.

I responded with a comment beginning “legally you can shoot the dog, but it would be better if…..” Days went by and one person emailed me saying “So you want to be elected to what?  Dog kill?” I responded in part that “If you don’t like the law that permits people to protect their animals then your beef is not with me….”

More days passed, and I met some people who alerted me that quite a ruckus had been stirred up. They didn’t know me and were outspoken and irate that I was some kind of dog killer. (They also felt it would be better to shoot the dog’s human owner than the dog, having appreciation for the chicken as well.) Once I explained my position and what I had advised, they were swayed and we became friends.

But when I returned to Fraud Porch Forum, I realized that an antagonistic resident had posted a new thread in which they completely reversed my advice in an obvious political and divisive attack that was simply untrue. So much for countering “disinformation campaigns” – here the Forum enabled one.

“Normally,” this person would have allegedly contacted me. But is it normal to completely mischaracterize my words in a new, incendiary post? (I had advised against shooting the dog first, even though legal). Well, yes – it is normal on Fraud Porch Forum, who systematically favor progressive and liberal posts and screen out conservatives, as I have known for years – I receive complaints regularly (perhaps we should do a post asking for comments?).

The shallow pretense of Linda Garrett is that because I am a Senate candidate my response “tells us all we need to know.” But what she tells is utterly false, and not my response at all, as well as laughably histrionic – Oh, no, imagine the poor ten-year-old finding her dead chicken on the ground!” This is called framing, and in this case it was absurdly dishonest – yet Fraud Porch Forum approved the slanderous re-write, a clear abuse of their “beneficial corporation” status. No one benefits from a warped lie, especially when FPF advertises that it is moderating things reliably. 

I sought to post the following response:

I’m sorry that Linda is so upset — and dishonest. I never said shoot first: quite the opposite. Then you attack me with histrionics and lies?

I will try to explain it again, as an experienced farmer and mediator. You have a rogue dog that is killing others’ chickens — this is not the first time. Chickens take six months to raise to produce eggs: organic grain is now almost $30/bag. But the pet is more important than the food animal so you propose to let it run wild and keep killing?

An analogy might help you with your emotions, Linda. It is the law that if a car hits a cow, the farmer is liable — even if the driver is reckless. How unfair to the cow!! (Perhaps you will create a false posting and say I am advocating to drive over cows? lol) But the law is logical — a loose cow can cause a driver’s death; and this law makes farmers maintain good fence lines. That is, it creates good policy.

If someone’s dog is killing others’ animals, on their property, and gets shot, then it is much like the cow and the fence — the dog’s owner is responsible for its death, just like the farmer with sloppy fences.

Here is the best solution: identify the dog, and tie a dead chicken to its neck and leave it there until it rots off. The dog will never kill another chicken, and keep its life. But there is no statute for that one. 🙂

It takes a community to raise a child. And also to stop a nuisance dog. But Linda and others would prefer to let the dog terrorize freely like a repeat criminal rapist, and unleashed on their neighbors, while lying about me for saying the truth about the law and proposing a viable solution. Maybe the City Mice just can’t understand the life of Country Mice, and want to ban all chickens? Either way, the histrionics against me suggest some people in the area require some therapy in order to communicate maturely with neighbors.

No wonder a single nuisance dog can’t be handled.

Fraud Porch Forum declined to post my defense, stating:

We won’t publish your posting, below, because it doesn’t comply with FPF’s Terms of Use. Specifically, FPF should not be used for public shaming, or for leveling accusations or insults. Speaking generally about a controversial topic is welcome; heatedly singling out specific neighbors is not. Please note that FPF discourages heated singling out of neighbors – however, questioning the statements and decisions of individuals running for public office is considered in a different light, as their performance is more open to discussion. If you’d like to rephrase your posting to shift the focus to the issues, instead of Linda Garrett, we’ll take another look.

No thanks – I’d prefer Vermonters take a look at this perverse logic. I gave sound advice, then more sound advice, and I stated facts – Linda lied, in an evident public shaming. That is what this Forum was used for here. This is an observable fact. (Please see dictionary for definition of word “lying”). Linda is not a public candidate, but she is a person who made a public post, and I used the same medium of response. The contrived distinction by Fraud Porch Forum in its so-called moderation is that malicious lies against a public figure are OK, but truthful defenses are not. This warps the law to perpetuate slander. (What a shocker.)

I complained to the Fraud Forum Forum that this was patently unfair, and was told:

Hi John. Sorry to hear about any upset. To be clear, FPF doesn’t “stand with” any particular members. However, we do decline to publish postings on our private service that violate our Terms of Use by leveling personal attacks against neighbors. Many Vermonters of all persuasions manage to post successfully about a wide variety of topics without violating our common sense rules. We welcome participation by all, and we’re holding our ground on civil discourse.

I wasn’t “upset,” but laughing. Their decision was as predictable as their willingness to chuckle when they posted Linda Garrett’s libelous lie and exposed me to attacks based on said falsehood. “Leveling personal attacks against neighbors” is precisely what Garrett did – with their predictable assistance. Their “common sense rules” are a joke when thusly applied – many Vermonters manage to have their posts similarly filtered by progressive fraudsters: not of “all persuasions”: just conservative ones. (I’m laughing again, not “upset” – very different feelings).

“Holding our ground on civil discourse?” Please, dear reader – laugh with me, at this charade. Controlling their so-called forum, the charlatans at Fraud Porch Forum falsely perceive they can filter content unfairly and get away with it because there is no accountability or even awareness by the deceived and defrauded community. If Linda’s lies are “civil discourse,” my leveled and accurate response is a step up in civility, not down. 

This is a pattern of misstatements – how is the Randolph community served by such clearly calculated divisiveness? How about the chicken/dog balance? Perhaps a handful of deceived citizens now believe me to be a dog killer, but I’ve never shot a dog that wasn’t my own, nor did I advocate shooting the Husky (let alone its owner). I will here defend myself, without being censored by fraudsters.

Yes, I have shot my own dogs – one (a Maremma guard dog) when he became too dangerous and bit humans. It was my responsibility to kill him before someone’s child was mauled (like I was as a young child – that scar down my nose was a Doberman/German Shepherd cross). I cried while I shot him – I loved Moochie dearly, but he had to go: feelings cannot be allowed to trump reason, or else other people’s chickens, cats, or children will suffer much worse fates.

Farmers see death routinely – it is part of the job, and unavoidable in animal husbandry. We do not become callous to death. On the contrary, it is the City Mice industrial-food crowd who have become alienated from that constant agrarian reminder which brings gratitude and humility to almost all farmers and their families. Many people deal with human death regularly, and they too have a constant reminder of reality over feeliness. 

But urbanites who descend into farming communities often get everything upside-down, as here – why is the chicken’s life disregarded but the errant killer dog is weeped for? The same histrionics enter in by those who want to ban hunting and cry a river for bears and coyotes without any concern for livestock (or human) attacks. People who “consume” handy-dandy plastic-wrapped food from faraway industrial grist-mills that treat the vast majority of (CAFO) animals with inhuman callousness become divorced from agricultural reality, and attack farmers who humanely care for their animals.

Perhaps the Randolph community would have howled in distress that I advised tying the dead chicken around the offender’s neck (an interesting application for human murderers?). If so, that would be yet more eclipsing of common sense in favor of unreliable feeliness – a farmer advised me to do this 20 years ago with a German Shepherd we owned, and had I not used the (already-dead) chicken in this macabre way I would have had to get rid of the dog (she had also killed some ewes as well, whom we owed protection). Instead, it worked REALLY well, and Sarah skulked away from chickens and sheep for the rest of her long life. A bad thing was used for good. 

Where is common sense? I slaughter my animals on-farm because it is THE most humane way to take their lives. They never see a stressful livestock trailer, or wait in a strange place with blood and guts surrounding them so some callous factory laborer can decide their fate. There is great responsibility in killing humanely – abandoned by City Mice in their trust of industrial farming and processors who pump animals full of antibiotics and hormones in order for them to survive the horrid conditions in which they are reared and “processed.”

I love dogs, especially my work dogs. But as a farmer, I don’t take my dog to a vet to put it down if it is time to go any more than a cow or sheep who dies without awareness, eating grain or hay on the very grass she plopped onto when born, with one clean shot. In religious traditions both Jewish (shechitah) and Muslim (halal), this is such a strong moral requirement that all other animals are forbidden to be eaten (“haram” in Islam). In Judaic law it is also forbidden to slaughter any animal and its offspring on the same day. Sounds pretty humane, compared to factory processing practices. 

As a Christian and experienced farmer, I hold a similar moral view.

I have a 17-year-old Border Collie named Katie at my feet. I cook her scrambled eggs regularly because her teeth are bad; buy her canned food I can’t afford. She has been completely deaf for several years. I pick her up and carry her outside throughout the day because she has trouble walking until she gets her right hip limbered up. Last year we spent a lot of money for surgery on her, so as to get another year of companionship – I owe it to her. She gave us three litters of puppies, and has lived a fantastic dog’s life herding sheep and playing with my children. She dotes on me and waits for my loving attentions, and is mostly not suffering. Her daughter and granddaughter are beside me as well. 

But Katie must die soon, as we all do eventually. I will not permit her to suffer unnecessarily, a moral duty that I owe all animals under my care and stewardship. I will not stress her out by driving her in the car to a vet’s office where she will be terrified. 

I had one dog (a Maremma named “L’Aquila”) who at age ten had to go (torn hip ligament). We had a local large animal vet who helped us. She was injected and “put to sleep,” but she knew what was happening (extremely intelligent animals), and my wife and I still cry thinking about how she clung to me in terror while the two drugs were adminstered.

My bestest friend ever was my first Border Collie, Beck. He would smile on command, never bit or hurt anyone or anything; hugely intelligent. At nearly 18, he suffered kidney failure and was urinating blood. He howled all night. I held him in my arms for many, many hours, and prayed he would just die “naturally” so I didn’t have to shoot him. After two nights I found him in the morning, howling in pain and looking at me dolefully. I quickly shot him in the head and buried him in my garden – taking him to the vet would have amplified, not diminished, his suffering. I felt greatly relieved that I could end rather than endure his agony; I “felt” that I was loyal to him in doing so.

So I do shoot dogs – not first, but last. And I have never shot anyone else’s dog, even after they have killed my cats or other animals. I realize that what I am describing may be alleged to be “against the law.” But Vermont’s animal cruelty law provides:

“A person commits the crime of aggravated cruelty to animals if the person: (1) kills an animal by intentionally causing the animal undue pain or suffering….” 

I intentionally do the opposite. 

Interestingly, Vermont law allows as an affirmative defense (§ 352b (4)) the killing of animals by “a representative of a duly organized humane society… [or] animal shelter…” but not an experienced farmer-owner. This is a big problem in Vermont – government and nonprofits usurping common sense as well as individuals’ rights: what guarantee is there that a duly-authorized stranger will be more humane to my dogs than I?

If my Katie is suffering on a Friday night, must I allow her to howl in agony until Monday, and hope my vet can see her? Or maybe drive her an hour to the nearest emergency vet clinic, at much higher cost? Or maybe I should call the understaffed State Police, who have fentanyl dealers, drunk drivers, and child rapists to attend to? I wouldn’t do any of those things – it would be against my conscience.

Back to Fraud Porch Forum and the dog and chicken problem. Only when a community understands, and faces, the death of both chicken and dog; cow and human, and seeks balanced understanding, will there be balance and order. Coexistence.

Fraud Porch Forum doesn’t care about balance: of facts versus lies; unbiased versus biased; libel versus truth; an open and considered forum versus a feigned and deceptive one. It does not coexist well with either civil dialogue or its “benefit corporation” deception, and its owners think they can freely violate both with impunity.

Vermonters know these differences, and should boycott this fraud. Fraud Porch Forum is violating public trust and seeding division in the “community” it pretends to nourish, but instead manipulates and exploits. It is a “stir-the-pot-for-profit” corporation.

If these fraudsters wish to prove me wrong, I invite a lawsuit. I won’t be sued though, because the Fraudsters know full well I am here telling the truth (see facts above), and that I would countersue for libel. Their knowing support of such a bold “public-forum” falsehood about me displays actual malice: “with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.” – as in, I never advised to shoot the dog first, and no reasonable person can not see the distortion of Lingda Garrett’s FPF-”approved” public-platform post). 

They also know the law of defamation: that truth is a defense. I can introduce dozens of witnesses to this long-standing pattern of advancing liberal politicians, candidates and positions while suppressing and gaslighting opposition. Fraud Porch Forum has abandoned its responsibility of fair forum stewardship, while pretending just the opposite. 

Facts are facts, however liars might “feel.” And some Vermonters “feel” that those who lie should be held accountable…. to facts.

I’m still laughing that people of such poor character think we farmers – and our neighbors – aren’t on to them. It is sad that we increasingly see two worlds in Vermont: one connected with our native agrarian culture; the other disconnected and exploitative of it. There is far more than just dogs and chickens at stake.

The author, a Brookfield resident, is a farmer, lawyer and Republican candidate for the Orange County state senate seat.

Author’s postscript, emailed this morning: “Katie started going downhill two days ago, and was clearly distressed today. We spent time with her but she was howling in pain so I had to end that. I feel much better now, sad as it is. 17 years is a long time for a dog, and she never bit anyone or even fought another dog. Extremely sweet, and we have her daughter Belle and Belles’ daughter Bea is 7 months old — just like Katie once was.”

Categories: Commentary

9 replies »

  1. Front Porch Forum is a leftist government propaganda rag parading as an online forum where “neighbors” can get to know one another and communicate. I’ve been thrown off TWICE at two different VT addresses for not following their “Progressive” very illiberal “liberal” agenda & ideology by discussing my perspectives as a VT town Planning Commission member and then in Colchester as a resident discussing (get ready for it) freedom of speech!!!!!

    Should they pipe in here, I still hold our communications & my PROOF of what I submitted to you – why not attempt to defend your defenseless censoring of free speech right here, right now?

    Literally, hundreds of Vermonters have been BANNED from FPF for their opinions and even factual content that FPF simply doesn’t agree with.

    They need to be reported as they accept public funding (according to my knowledge) & should not be permitted to censor anyone for anything except of course for threats/inappropriate language, etc. Banning Vermonters? NO. NEVER. Unless law enforcement has been called in & such an action is well warranted.

    Until the VT GOP and the national GOP put an END to this censorship by bringing claims against this & similar anti-democracy, oppressive, authoritarian forums/mediums that are partially publicly supported – this will continue. And continue it does.

    Remember MY name here FPF? What goes around, comes around: Enjoy your new Amerika coming soon to this USA; the one your ancestors likely fought & perhaps even died for……and don’t forget to stock up on toilet paper whilst you still can, Einsteins…..

  2. Thank you John for this thoughtful, beautifully articulated piece. My condolences on the passing of your friend. To those of us with an appreciation of the human/animal dichotomy, the “Disneyesque” view point to this relationship is so foreign as to be viewed as cartoonish. This woman’s comments were obviously meant to cause you political harm, and would therefor cause me to question the sincerity of her base claim. Having said that, I have always questioned the lack of responsibility by some for their pets, because they exercise a Disney loving belief to anthropomorphize animals.

  3. John, your next post to Front Porch Forum should be entitled “Killing Two Birds With One Stone”.

  4. I had a friend that lived a mile up the road, who raised blue ribbon sheep. As IBM grew, suburban dogs multiplied, and his lambs kept getting disemboweled. For those dogs’ sake he hand-delivered posters to the surrounding neighborhoods. No threats, just a request to control your pets. Once dogs stopped coming home, people started paying closer attention to where Fluffy was, and the sheep lived happily ever after.

    There were accusations, but nobody knew for sure , or at least , they weren’t willing
    to say.

  5. Years ago — when I still considered myself “on the left”, and FPF was still new — I pleaded with FPF to proscribe political content beyond announcing events. I tried to make the case that encouraging people to engage in these kinds of conversations in text was toxic, and counter to their mission.
    Their reply was essentially, “politics gets great engagement; go away.”
    So, I did.
    Someday there will be a social media website where I won’t have to watch people I care about tear each other’s throats out… but the best we have right now are ones where the platform takes sides based solely on their own politics. : /

  6. FPFraud is a joke – a waste of time – a dishonest leftist virtue signaling forum only. We should all leave and let them all write to themselves and pat themselves on the back in their own hell hole. THAT is what FPF is for and that is what it is anyway. Anyone who disputes the old, tired, untrue, intentionally false left wing narratives gets kicked off anyway. They pretend to be fair and absolutely are not. Again – they are a complete JOKE.

  7. Pretty long winded answer to a fairly simple issue.
    So, how long have you lived in VT, Mr Klar?
    I loved your answer in FPF about building a roundabout in Randolph. You would only have to take about 4 businesses to make that possible, very pro business attitude while using condemnation to make it happen.

  8. Banned from FPF years ago for speaking the truth in town. The better the arguments, the quicker the ban.

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